The Artvan after being recovered. Courtesy of ArtVan Founder Jamie Silvestri

The Midcoast-area ArtVan is temporarily off the road after it was stolen and used to steal cash from an ATM in Brunswick last week.

Jamie Silvestri, the founder of Artvan Program, said on Thursday she was contacted by police on the morning of March 11 and told the van had been stolen around 2 a.m. from its parking spot at the United Baptist Church in Topsham.

Silvestri said the perpetrators drove the van to an Androscoggin Bank ATM in the downtown Brunswick Hannaford parking lot.

The Androscoggin Bank ATM in Brunswick. Courtesy of Bohemian Coffee House & Deli owner Peter Robbins

The perpetrators then chained the trailer hitch to the ATM and, at that point, Silvestri said, it was “metal to the pedal — pulled off the door of the ATM and I’m assuming took as much cash as they could, left the van, left the chain and left the crime scene.”

The van was broken into easily, according to Silvestri, as there doesn’t seem to be damage to the door. All of the interior lights in the rear of the van were removed. A key not made for the van was jammed into the ignition.

Silvestri said the 2013 van is back in the organization’s possession. It is being repaired in Wiscasset, the cost of which is covered by insurance with a small deductible.


“It’s a hilarious story, it’s a sad story that people are so desperate making destructive choices who I think are probably very smart, you know, this is well-planned out,” Silvestri said. “It empowers me to continue to do the work we’re doing, because if I can support one young person to channel their strength in a way that is positive and less destructive — then I’m doing good.”

ArtVan is a Bath-based organization that serves under-resourced youth through art therapy. According to a schedule on the nonprofit’s website, it visits schools, support agencies and housing developments from Biddeford to Auburn to Bath.

On Thursday, Brunswick Police Chief Scott Stewart said the case is a priority for the department. Evidence, including videos as well as leads, are currently being processed and followed up on, he said. No arrests have been made, and Stewart said that the incident did involve multiple people.

The ATM was robbed at 2:30 a.m. the same day that the van was stolen. Stewart declined Thursday to say how much cash was taken and if there are any suspects.

Stewart said the crime would be classified as theft and a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years incarceration and a $20,000 fine.

“It isn’t a typical theft that we’ve seen before,” Stewart said, adding that it was a “better-planned theft” than the department typically sees.


The lights inside the ArtVan were removed. Courtesy of ArtVan Founder Jamie Silvestri

Among the first at the scene last Friday morning was Peter Robbins, the owner of Bohemian Coffee House & Deli across the street from the Androscoggin Bank. Robbins said that around 5:45 a.m. an employee notified him about the ATM, he went outside and then contacted the police.

“My first thought was these have to be professionals, these aren’t townies,” Robbins said. “I was amazed at how it wasn’t destroyed. It looked like it had been opened.”

Robbins said that a new crowbar was also left at the scene, and that the ArtVan was discovered down the road off Middle Street.

For more information on the ArtVan program and to make a donation, visit

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